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John Byrne (writer), Paul Ryan (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Christie Scheele (colorist), Howard Mackie (editor), Tom DeFaclo (editor-in-chief)
Asgard resides in the Negative Zone, and Odin has detected the presence of Thor, who has appeared in the Negative Zone with several Avengers. Odin sends the Warriors Three to investigate, and hopefully bring Thor back to Asgard. But Thor is currently busy protecting Sersi's unconscious body from the alien Blastaar. They battle for some time, before Blastaar fires a powerful surge of energy at Sersi – and seemingly incinerates her. This enrages Thor, who continues his assault against Blastaar. Nearby, Namor frees Captain America from some rubble, and when Cap regains consciousness, they see energy blasts in a nearby citadel. Namor speeds off to investigate, leaving Cap to follow on the ground, where he finds She-Hulk, waking after her recent fall. They don't need to go into the citadel as the fight comes to them when Thor forces Blastaar out, and down to the ground. Namor flies after them and pulls Thor away, as Blastaar strikes the ground. The regrouped Avengers surround Blastaar, who explains how he survived his seeming demise at the hands of Annihilu, which led to him to float through the Negative Zone, until a disturbance in the Negative Zone drew him to a newly arrived city – Olympis, where he was rescued by the Eternals and nurded back to health – only to betray them by slaughtering them all! Blastaar continues his attack on the Avengers, but they fight him with all their might – and are soon aided by the Warriors Three, but Blastaar uses this moment to slip away, and runs through Olympia – until he finds himself attacked by a strange energy which carries him back to the Avengers. That energy takes a shape – it’s the Eternals! Blastaar is furious – he killed them, and lashes out at them, boasting that he will kill them again. Ikaris explains that they didn't die, they simply manipulated their molecules to appear as if they had – after all, Eternals are almost impossible to kill. Blastaar is defeated. Thena attends to Gilgamesh and comes to the conclusion that he is weak because he has spent too much time away from Olympia. She tells Captain America that it has honored her that an Eternal has spent time with the Avengers. Captain America suggests that there may come a day when another Eternal serves with the Avengers, before asking how Olympia came to be in the Negative Zone anyway. Thena and Ikaris turn to Sprite, who explains that when he learned the machines that kept Olympia hidden from the world were malfunctioning, he made a slight readjustment to them which would place them beyond the reach of mere humans for as long as they wished – only it was never his intention to cause this much trouble. The Warriors Three ask Thor to return to Asgard with them, but he declines, and the Warriors Three depart, knowing that Thor will always walk the hard paths of Midgard. Meantime, on Earth, a homeless man is scared out of an alleyway when a mysterious man wearing a white suit appears through a portal.
Around the ebon throne there is a silence, dark and dread – far away, the sound of distant thunder rolls across skies night dark and ominous – mortals attend! Odin is about to speak! The mighty Asgardian sits on his throne, his ravens Hugin and Munin are perched behind him. He raises his staff, and bids the Warriors Three to come forth. Odin addresses Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg, he tells them that they are among the precious few his noble son calls friends. 'We hear and obey, great Odin... what is this command?' Fandral asks. Odin reports that only moments ago he detected a parting in the insubstantiality which separates them from the realm of Midgard, that men of the planet Earth have come into this place they name the Negative Zone – and Thor was with them. 'Thor? Here?' Volstagg asks. Odin confirms that Thor chose to remain with his mortal colleagues when Asgard was transported here, but now it seems some business hath brought him high, and with his coming hath thrust himself into the maw of danger most foul. Odin admits that he cannot quite make out the form of this danger, but he knows this to be so.
The Grand Vizier approaches Odin and bids him caution, that he should not overtax himself. Odin leans back in his throne and tells his trusted councillor that he will not overtax himself, before cursing the weakness that seems to gnaw at his very bones, assuring the others that he will not overtax himself so much that the weakness overwhelms him, that he must preserve his remaining strength until he can undergo his sacred Odin-sleep. The Granz Vizier tells Odin that he knows this is hard for him, to have his most beloved son in danger, and not be able to fly to his side. 'Aye, and aye again, Vizier!' Odin replies, announcing that it was for this reason that he summoned the Warriors Three of Asgard. He bids them to go now and learn what trouble and vexes his firstborn son, and to render him such aid as their diverse skills can provide. 'We fly on wings as fleet as thought itself, my lord' Fandral replies, bowing. The Warriors Three leave the throne room, and Hogun tells Fandral that he has pretty words, but that pretty words may not avail them against the perils that stalk this mad realm. Fandral sighs, and tells his friend that in all the Negative Zone, there is nothing grimmer than his own black moods. 'Against their gloom, 'tis nothing I would say I fear!'
The grand city of Olympia, currently floating through the Negative Zone, lies in ruin, and suffers more damage as the alien Blastaar hurls energy blasts at the mighty Thor. 'Fall, Asgardian! Join in shattered death the fallen Olympian you strive to shield from me!' Blastaar calls out as Thor turns his back to the blast to protect the unconscious Eternal known as Sersi. 'You cannot so soon have forgot the power of Blastaar, can you, godling?' the alien asks, reminding Thor that he has tasted his fury in the past, and that he knows what he cannot beat. Thor deflects the blast with his hammer and tells Blastaar that he talks nothing but empty threats. 'Powerful thou may well be, with force enough to shatter worlds...but Thor has power of his own. The power vested by my father in my sacred mallet, Mjolnir!' he declares as he slams his hammer againste the ground, knocking Blastaar off his feet. 'Is that power thou has forgot, accursed alien? It beat thee once before. Let the son of Odin remind you of its might...first by smashing the stone upon which thou dost stand...and then by hurling thee back into the midnight maw of thy Negative Zone!' Thor exclaims as he tosses Mjolnir towards Blastaar, who deflects the powerful mallet, and tells the Asgardian that it was a cunning move, but not enough.
Blastaar declare that as they are within the Negative Zone, here he is of power unequalled. Thor holds Sersi with one arm and catches Mjolnir with his free hand as the hammer returns to him, admitting that Blastaar is a foe to be reckoned with, as there are few who could deflect his hammer. Thor adds that it is a pity Blastaar has within his soul no single shred of nobility, that he might also be a foe truly worthy of a scion of Asgard. 'You mock me? You mock my might?' Blastaar asks, enraged. 'LEARN NOW THE ERROR OF SUCH THOUGHT!' Blastaar booms as he fires a powerful surge of energy – straight at Sersi's limp body – and seemingly disintegrates her! SERSI!' Thor shouts, looking wide-eyed as the energy that destroyed her fades away. 'Craven miscreant! Foul murderer! Thou hast blasted her to less than dust! Terrible shall be my retribution!' Thor declares, lunging straight at Blastaar and knocking the alien backwards.
Elsewhere within the ruins of Olympia, a hand reaches up through a pile of rubble, 'ENOUGH!' Namor the Sub-Mariner shouts, vowing that he shall be free. Namor stands up and looks down to Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America. 'Are you...?' he calls out but gets no response. Namor picks his stunned ally up, 'Mighty he may be, but only mortal' Namor remarks as he carries Cap over to a fountain, then sets him down, removes his mask and pours some water into Cap's shield, and washes that water across Cap's face, knowing that her took a beating which would likely have killed a lesser man. 'He is every bit as worthy now tro be the ally of the Sub-Mariner...as he was those many decades past, when he and I fought side by side against the Nazi hordes...' Namor remarks. Cap wakes and rubs his head, 'Coming from you I'll take that as the ultimate compliment, Namor' he tells his ally, before asking him if he saw who – or what – it was that hit them. 'No, old friend' Namor replies, adding that it was a bolt of pure, concussive force, but it hit them before he had the slightest chance to tell its point of origin.
'Pure concussive force... a lot like that, you mean?' Cap asks, motioning up to the tower where blinding energy glows. 'Great Neptune's trident! A battle rages at the summit of that tower! A battle we must join!' Namor exclaims. Namor starts to head towards the tower, but Cap tells him 'Not so fast' and remarks that he doesn't care much to admit it, but he is still pretty shaky, and he doesn't want Namor charging off on his own, that is not good battle savvy. 'Do not try to stop me, old ally. He that attacked us has besmirched the honor of the Avenging Son of Atlantis!' Namor replies, taking flight, he declares that their foe awaits in yonder tower, and the waiting shall not be long before their foe knows his vengeance. Cap pulls his mask down over his face and supposes that it is pointless to try and stop Namor, before asking him to think before he acts, and, if he can, stall until he gets there.
'He probably didn't even hear that' Cap mutters to himself as he trudges across the rubble of Olympia, realizing that Namor was flying too fast, even if Namor was of the natural inclination to pay attention to anyone's advice. Cap decides that Namor is probably the most ferocious fighter this century has seen, but he learned quickly enough back in World War Two that common sense is not Namor's strongest suit. Cap heads towards the citadel, and wonders if Namor's manic nature has anything to do with his unique origins – son of an air-breathing human father and a water-breathing Atlantean mother. 'That's not a mix you'd just naturally expect to produce...hold it...what's that up ahead!?' Cap woners as he sees a crater up ahead. 'Something hit the ground hard here. Hard enough to shatter the marble floor – great scott!' Cap gasps as he sees Jennifer Walters a..k.a. She-Hulk emerging from the crater. 'Are you...?' Cap calls out to her. 'Don't even ask, Cap!' Jennifer replies. 'I hurt enough that I just might tell you!' she adds. Cap helps She-Hulk out of the crater and asks her what happened, recalling that She-Hulk was with Sersi when the group separated.
'I can tell you the whole of what I know in one word, Cap... BLASTAAR!' She-Hulk replies. 'Blastaar? Here... in Olympia?' Cap enquires. 'Yup' She-Hulk tells him, looking up at the top of the citadel, she points out that from the looks of things is still up in what's left of the Eternals' great hall of audiences. 'I never expected Sersi to be able to give him such a go of it!' She-Hulk admits. But suddenly, as Thor forces Blastaar out of the tower, Cap tells She-Hulk that she is right. 'Thor!' She-Hulk exclaims, before Thor and Blastaar begin to fall towards the ground. 'Neither of 'em can fly!' She-Hulk exclaims, before seeing Namor at the edge of the tower. 'Blast the Thunder God and his warrior's code! He would not let me join his battle with Blastaar...but his present situation offers him no choice...!' Namor calls out as he flies off the tower. 'What's he going to...?' She-Hulk asks, to which Cap tells her to keep watching, as one way or another, he thinks they are going to gind out in about two seconds.
Indeed, an instant later, Namor grabs Thor by his waist, 'Let him fall, Asgardian! It will take some of the fight out of him!' Namor calls out. 'No! Namor, unhand me!' Thor replies, declaring that this is a single combat between two warriors. 'Warriors? Blastaar asks as he suddenly fires a surge of energy at the ground to ease his descent. 'Think yourself a warrior, do you, godling? If such a thing were true... you would have slain me when you had the chance!' Blastaar exclaims, boasting that Thor is weak, weak as all who call themselves heroes, and admitting that he has no such sensibilities, as he slams into the ground below. 'Blastaar is power unequalled!' he declares.
On Earth, a homeless man huddled down an alleyway suddnely stirs, as a wind howls down the alley, and a blinding light resonates through the alley. The homeless man screams, and starts to run, 'Lemme outta here!' he calls out. What he didn't see is that the light forms a portal, and a man in a white suit emerges. 'Good...no one of consequence has noted my arrival' he remarks, looking around. He lights a cigarette and declares gthat the first part of the plan is flawlessly executed. He wonders if it is an omen, the bodement of a successful venture. 'We shall see. We shall see' he tells himself, as he walks towards the street, adding that he has always been inclined to make his own omens, at any rate – preferably evil ones.
Back in the Negative Zone, Blastaar fires two powerful surges of energy into the air as Captain America, Thor, Namor and She-Hulk begin to slowly surround him. 'Keep back, humans! You have thus far sampled but a tiny portion of the unleashed power of Blastaar!' the alien shouts, adding that it is all too clear to him that they spread themselves, trying to goad him into attacking one or two, so that the others may strike. He boasts that it is a foolish puny plan, without merit. 'Okay, so it doesn't sing for you. As long as we're all standing around playing the waiting game...maybe you'd care to explain how you happen to be here in the first place!' She-Hulk exclaims, reminding Blastaar that the last time she saw him, he and a bunch of his troops were being blasted into atoms by Annihilus. 'How little you comprehend of Blastaar's might, green one!' the alien rerorts, admitting that it is true they were attacked by his traitorous former ally.
(flashback images, narrated by Blastaar in the present)
Blastaar asks She-Hulk if she had forgotten that his own men had first turned against him, sought to restrain him with a stasis ray, so with his atomic structure locked, the devastation of Annihilus passed over him, and in the subsequent disintegration of his vessel, he was cast adrift in the vastness of the Negative Zone. He states that what happened to him after that is of no consequence, until his drifting was arrested by a sudden disturbance in the very fabric of space – and he fell into the heart of a sudden whirlpool, and beheld him a city, floating on the dark oceans of the abyss. Blastaar explains that from out of that place of gleaming spires came beings, soft and hideous like the humans of Earth, yet fairly pulsing with such power as even he had not known before. His floating body was rescued by Ikaris of the Eternals, who took him to the other Eternals – Makkari, Thena, Sprite, Phastos and Cybele. Blastaar was near death. 'They brought me to their leader – a female, if such a thing can be believed!' Blastaar tells the Avengers. Thena, surrounded by the Eternals, including Ransak, Kingo Sunen and the Deviant Karkas, summoned forth energies that fanned to full vigor the dwindling embers of his life. Blastaar was grateful, and to show his thanks, he tried to slay them all as quickly and painlessly as he could – foolishly, the Eternals resisted, and the price of that was their utter destruction. He hoped that it pained the stupid brutes as much as their stupidity pained him.
'Within minutes I had slain them all!' Blastaar boasts, revealing that he scattered their atoms across the broad, blank face of the Negative Zone, and warns the Avengers that he will do the same to them now. He fires two blasts, one strikes Thor, the other the She-Hulk, slamming them both backwards. 'Od's blood!' Thor utters, while Captain America and Namor move closer to Blastaar, Cap tells him that it is not everyone who can taker Thor off guard like that. Namor supposes that Blastaar felled She-Hulk and the Asgardian first, thinking them the most powerful of their ranks. 'Namor is here to teach you the error of your -' the Sub-Mariner begins, before he is knocked back courtesy of one of Blastaar's energy surges. 'Blast it all! What comes over Namor? Sometimes he acts as if he doesn't have a brain in his head!' Cap thinks to himself as he raises his shield as he nears Blastaar, telling the alien that he has nice moves, but he still has to contend with him. 'You?' Blastaar asks without concern. 'Trouble me not with your boasts, mortal! You are even less to me than the others!' the alien declares, pointing out that Captain America lacks even super powers to give him a proper challenge.
'Maybe not. The Super-Soldier serum that transformed me into Captain America made me a perfect physical specimen, not a super one...but I still have a few aces to play... such as my legendary shield!' Captain America responds as he holds his shield up to block the energy that Blastaar fires at him. 'Impossible! The cursed disk absorbs the fury of my blast!' Blastaar exclaims. 'Full marks on that one, friend! Nothing that hits my shield can hurt it... though I think you'll agree there's a distinction between hitting... and getting hit!' Captain America declares as he lunges forward, shield in front of him, he slams it into Blastaar, knocking the alien back into some rubble. 'Get off me!' Blastaar snaps as he kicks Captain America backwards, asking him if he thinks he has nothing but explosive bolts to fight with. 'You are wrong!' Blastaar exclaims. Cap falls back, 'Score another one for you, Blastaar' Cap remarks, adding that he didn't expect Blastaar to show any skills in close-quarters combat. 'Do not berate yourself overly, human! Others have underestimated Blastaar!' the alien shouts as he begins to wave his hands about, firing blast after blast, that strikes the buildings around them, and causes them to topple towards Captain America, as Blastaar declares that others have paid the price that Captain America shall now pay.
Cap looks up at the top of the tower that drops towards him, casting a large shadow over him, Cap supposes that it is a almost a city block worth of debris coming straight at him. 'No time to dodge...' Cap realizes, raising his shield, he doesn't know if it will save him – but he doesn't need it, as a mace is hurled at the rubble, moments before it strikes Captain America, shattering the tower ruins into harmless rocks. Cap looks over to his rescuers and sees the Warriors Three. 'Fear not, brave mortal! Tthine hour of doom is not yet struck!' Fandral exclaims. 'behold before thee now the mightiest warriors in all of fabled Asgard!' Volstagg calls out, while Cap tells the men that their timing could not have been better. Blastaar looks unimpressed, 'More of Thor's godling breed. This battle turns in manners not at all to Blastaar's liking!' he thinks to himself, while Hogun retrieves his mace, and states that it is plain enough to see the cause of all the ruination about him, adding that the gray-pelted varlet is known to them. He then asks where Thor is.
'Not far, my valiant brethren!' Thor calls out from where he emerges from some nearby rubble, explaining that the falling of a building created atop him a mountain of sufficient rubble to delay his proper greeting. Thor tells his friends that it is good indeed to see them after far too many days apart, but that they must save the merry words and clasping of hands until the lowly villain is dealt to – but as they look around for Blastaar, they realize he has escaped.
'These newcomers have upset my advantage! I must withdraw until the time presents itself to renew my attack!' Blastaar tells himself as he makes his way down a marbled street, declaring that he fights only when the game is his to win. Suddenly, he comes to a stop as the wind rises, and the air grows troubled with strange energies. 'Curses of a thousand dying moons! Gravity itself betrays me!' Blastaar snarls as he is lifted into the air as a strange energy glows above him. 'I am beset by demons!' Blastaar calls out as energy forms dart about him. The energy forms slam him into a wall, then another, before throwing him to the ground where the Avengers and Warriors Three have gathered. 'What in blue blazes -' Captain America begins. 'Those wisps of energy – what...?' She-Hulk wonders, while Thor alerts everyone to the energy forms coming to a halt behind Blastaar, and the shimmering energy forms begin to solidify – it is the lost Eternals! 'No!' Blastaar gasps as he looks up and sees Sersi, Thena, Ikaris, Makkari, Phastos, Cybele and Karkas looming over him. 'No! NO!' he shouts. 'I killed you! Killed you!' Blastaar exclaims in a rage, hurling more energy blasts about, he boasts that what he did before he shall do again.
'I think not!' Ikaris retorts, firing eye beams at Blastaar, he tells the villain that he caught them unawares last time, unprepared for his gargantuan ingratitude – but not this time! Ikaris then slams his fist into Blastaar, knocking him out. Cap, Namor, She-Hulk, Thor and the Warriors Three approach Ikaris, Sersi and the other Eternals. 'Nicely done' Cap tells Ikaris, adding that he hopes they are not offended by his next question: '... but... why aren't you people dead?' Cap asks. Hands on hips, Sersi tells Captain America that it was a slight miscalculation on Blastaar's part – an Eternal is never so easy to kill. Thor goes over to Sersi and reminds her that he held her in his arms at the moment of the killing blast, and tells her that he felt her shattered into dust and less than dust. 'I'm sure you did, Asgardian...' Sersi begins, reminding Thor that all Eternals have complete control of their physical structure, even down to the atomic level, and reveals that by amazing coincidence, Blastaar's bio-energetic blasts were on just the right frequency to disrupt that control, but not to shatter it as Blastaar thought.
Sersi adds that it took longer for each of the Eternals to regain full control and reassemble themselves than it otherwise might. Sersi smiles and declares that now the menace of Blastaar is ended, they have adjusted their molecular fields so that his blasts will not affect them that way again. 'And once more I can safely say, there is no death in Olympia!' Sersi declares. Thena is tending to Gilgamesh and announces that even he is well on his way to recovery from the wounds suffered at the hands of the Lava Men. Captain America asks Thena if she knows about that, to which Thena tells him that there is little that befalls any Eternal that is not soon known to all others. She adds that she suspects it was the Forgotten One's long exile in a far corner of Olympia that caused his distress to begin with. Thena explains that they are all bonded to this city of their birth, and for Gilgamesh, it would seem that bond has become, at least in part, life sustaining.
Phastos helps Gilgamesh to his feet as everyone walks towards the Avengers Quinjet, and Thena remarks that is a pity, as it pleased her to have a member of the Eternals race serving side by side with the noble Avengers, that it bespoke a day when human and Eternal might stand as one, all ancient fears and jealousies gone forever. 'A day well worth hoping for, my lady' Captain America replies, to which Thena tells him that perhaps they should not too soon assume the link between their people has been broken, as there are other Eternals, others who might take the place of Gilgamesh in the ranks of the Avengers. Captain America remarks to Thena that there is one thing that still puzzles him and asks how in the world Olympia came to be in the Negative Zone in the first place. Thena, Ikaris and Makkari all look over to Sprite, as Thena declares that she suspects the cause of that is right before them. 'Or would I be mistaken, Sprite?' Thena asks. Sprite claims that when he learned that the machines that hide the Eternals from prying eyes of the outside world were malfunctioning, he saw a way to make a slight readjustment which would place them beyond the ken of mere humans for so long as they wished.
Sprite adds that it was never his intent to cause his fellow Olympians any distress. 'Alas, Sprite, I fear it never is' Thena replies, tapping at a console, she explains that now, knowing the source of their situation, she can quickly remedy it. Hogun asks Lady Thena for a moment before she sends this city back to the realm of men, and with the captive Blastaar at his side, Hogun turns to Thor and reminds him that he did decide to stay in Midgard when the Rainbow Bridge, Bifrost, did break and Asgard drifted into this strange place. Hogun tells Thor that if he returned with them now, the joy of his fellow gods would ring even to the halls of Valhalla. Thor tells Hogun that the flicker of a smile he sees in his own eternally grim countenance is enough to tell him so – more than his words could.
But, Thor explains that his heart has always belonged to Midgard, and for the present, though their parting pains him as might a wound, he will stay with his fellow Avengers. 'Good luck to thee, Thunder God... we shall ever sing thy praises in thy father's house!' Fandral exclaims. The Warriors Three then depart on a chariot, with Volstagg telling his comrades that Odin will not be pleased by this, as he would have preferred his son to come home with them. Fandral tells Volstagg that is true, but that would be the easier way, and that in Thor's long millennia of his life, he has walked within the umbered shadows of the hardest paths – which perhaps makes him the greatest of them all. With that, the Warriors Three ride out of sight, and an instant later, the mighty city of Olympia vanishes from the Negative Zone.
Captain America, Gilgamesh, She-Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Thor (all Avengers)
Cybele, Ikaris, Makkari, Phastos, Sersi, Sprite, Thena (all Eternals)
Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg (all Warriors Three)
Hugin & Munin
Cybele, Ikaris, Kingo Sunen, Makkari, Phastos, Sprite, Thena (all Eternals)
Karkas & Ransak
Sersi is added to the cover corner box this issue, despite not joining the Avengers until Avengers (1st series) #314.
Blastaar was seemingly destroyed by Annihilus in Fantastic Four (1st series) #290, and subsequently appeared in Fantastic Four (1st series) #318.
Cybele was last seen in Eternals (2nd series) #12, and oddly, has not appeared since this issue.